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COVID-19 Response Fund Gives $3M For Emergency Needs

Charlotte's COVID-19 Response Fund has handed out its first $3 million in grants, to help Mecklenburg County residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The initial round of grants went to 14 social service agencies that are seeing increased demand for food, shelter, housing and other needs, said Laura Clark, CEO of the United Way of Central Carolinas. 

Laura Clark United Way
Credit United Way of Central Carolinas
Laura Clark, United Way CEO

"The first grants really were directed to organizations that truly are on the frontlines right now. We're dealing with shelter issues, feeding people, emergency financial assistance, the things that really define those basic needs that we all have," she said.

Crisis Assistance Ministry got $600,000 to help people pay rent in motels if they are unemployed or have lost their jobs. Another $275,000 went to Commonwealth Charlotte to help people who work at restaurants or hotels. Other grants will pay for food programs, rent subsidies, and to set up a Spanish-language telephone help line.  

Clark said some agencies are having to change because of stay-at-home and social distancing rules. 

"The grants are designed to help them both meet the needs, but also adapt their business practices to meet the guidelines," she said.

The COVID-19 Response Fund was set up by the United Way and the Foundation for the Carolinas. It has already raised nearly $12 million from companies, foundations and individual donors. 

Grant decisions are being made by a 17-person committee whose members include the county manager, faith and corporate leaders, a city council member and a county commissioners.  Chairs are Tanya Blackmon of Novant Health and Edwin Peacock of Pomfret Financial. 

"They represent diverse sectors and perspectives in our community and represent the geography of Mecklenburg County," Clark said.   

Grant applications and individual donations are being accepted at HelpCharMeck.org

Here's a list of the initial grants, announced Friday: 

  • $70,000 to Ada Jenkins Center to provide emergency financial assistance and support to individuals and families in north Mecklenburg.
  • $75,000 to Camino Community Center to increase access to food and household products for the elderly and families.
  • $75,000 to Charlotte Family Housing to increase rental subsidies for clients who have lost employment or income.
  • $275,000 to Commonwealth Charlotte to provide no-interest loans and deferred payment schedule to workers in restaurants and hospitality fields.
  • $75,000 to Communities in Schools to facilitate delivery of food and hygiene kits to homeless children and families living in hotels.
  • $600,000 to Crisis Assistance Ministry to help those reside in motels – and are unemployed or have lost wages – remain in place.
  • $100,000 to Latin American Coalition to set up a bilingual hotline and electronic clearinghouse to assist the immigrant community.
  • $100,000 to Loaves & Fishes to assist with new delivery strategy required due to the crisis.
  • $243,462 to Men’s Shelter of Charlotte to reduce numbers in its shelters, maintain staffing levels and provide rental subsidies to clients who have lost employment or income.
  • $90,200 to Safe Alliance to reduce numbers in its shelters, maintain staffing levels and provide hotel rooms for domestic violence victims at highest risk.
  • $138,448 to Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte to reduce numbers in shelters, maintain staffing levels and provide rental subsidies to clients who have lost employment or income.
  • $500,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina to purchase food to provide to those in need.
  • $500,000 to SocialServe to work with landlords renting to families and seniors unable to pay due to the crisis, as well as help homeless families leaving hotels find secure rental housing.
  • $75,000 to Supportive Housing Communities to increase mental health services for residents, provide stipends for residents who are volunteering, and assist with increased housing needs for residents who have lost employment or income.

Members of the grants committee are:  
Chairs Tanya Blackmon of Novant Health and Edwin Peacock of Pomfret Financial; Charles Bowman, Bank of America; Jordan Boyd, Rockwell AME Zion Church; Heath Campbell, Truist Financial; Alexis Coleman, Davidson United Methodist Church; Betsy Conway, Lowe’s; Dena Diorio, Mecklenburg County; Malcolm Graham, City of Charlotte; Mark Jerrell, Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners; Cliff Matthews, St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church; Brian Middleton, Atrium; Dee O’Dell, U.S. Bank; Jill Olmstead, LendingTree; Susan Patterson, community volunteer; Federico Rios, City of Charlotte; and Lisa Saunders, Christ Church Charlotte.

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